Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Got It!

If you watched the news recently, you may have seen stories about the transit of Venus across the face of the sun.  It doesn't happen very often (it will be over 100 years before it will be visible from the Earth again).  I decided to drag out the telescope (I haven't touched it for many years) and see if I could capture this event.

I set up the scope (a 114 mm reflector), a new CCD camera, and my laptop.  I have a solar filter for the front of the scope.  I was hoping to get some digital photos.

The weather forecast did not look promising.  We had cloud cover projected for many hours.

I had to wait for a clearing in the clouds.  The transit started locally here about 6:00.  Off to the east there was a sliver of clear sky.  Maybe I would get my chance . . .

The sun popped through the clouds around 6:30!  I had to get the sun in the shot, get it focused, grab some shots.  I did not have the 'goto' unit hooked to the scope, so I had to try to visually get the picture.  I slowly panned the scope around, watching the sky slowly brighten on the screen as I got near sun.  It then appeared, but was out of focus.  I started to focus, but the bright sun made it hard to see the computer screen.  I ended upholding my netbook up to block the sun so I could see the screen while trying to focus the scope.

Suddenly, I could see Venus!  Got it.  I pressed the record button, and grabbed 5 frames in an AVI file (sorry for the high nerd-index of this post, but that is the nature of astronomy...).

I was able to run some stacking software to clean up the image.  Voila  . . .

Shortly after, the clouds came back.  I waited around for another hour.  The skies did not clear.  The sun was getting low in the sky.  My opportunity was over.

Still, I got a shot.  Pretty cool!

Did you get a chance to see it?

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